Watching scary movies, playing scary games, driving on a huge rollercoaster, are some of the things that make people scared and horrified but on other hand, people love this kind of fun. The point is that the thrill of the unknown elevates heart rate and boosts adrenaline, and while doing these scary things, if the person knows that they are not real threat, they can be processed, laughed about and enjoyed. Young children, even if are not totally aware of the origin of this kind of entertainment, mostly find it amusing, but on other hand there are some figures imagined to be entertaining, but still they terrify with their appearance.

One figure of this type is the clown. They are comical performers, stereotypically characterized by the image of the Circus clown, with coloured wigs, strong makeup, unconventional costumes, unusually large footwear, red-nose… They tell jokes, do some silly things that many times require strong physical disposition and many hours of training. Even if they are imagined as a funny figure that make children and grownups smile, a large group of people, young and adults, finds clowns very scary. According to the researches, approximately 20 to 30% of the entire population find clowns intimidating.

In psychology this type of fear is known as Coulrophobia and it can result with panic attacks, anxiety and similar phobic reactions.

There are a number of theories why a number of people find clowns scary. Experts say that is connected with some childhood trauma. They underline that first contact with circus can be pretty annoying for a child. There is a sensory overloading with unusual sights, sounds and smells so a child can easily become overwhelmed by the surreality of all that.

Also there is a concept about the role that clowns play in society. Children are taught that they have the right to behave as children and adults have the responsibility to act like adults. In this case there is a conflict because clowns are encouraged to become adults acting like children. Also here is the fear from molestation by a masked or disguised attacker. Feeling humiliated or ridiculed in public can be a very traumatic experience for some people, even if it’s done in the name of comedy.

Another reason could be the fact that clowns are often portrayed as emotionally unstable or psychotic. They are characterized as emotionally conflicted persons that project a false impression of happiness while hiding great personal pain.

To all this can be added the idea of a "killer clown", used in horror films and novels many times. Probably the photos of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy, dressed as a clown, that have been published numerous times, also took part in marking of the clowns as a scary figures.

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Author's Bio: 

Graduated philologist in comparative literature, born in Skopje, Macedonia. I find writing as one of the most appropriate ways to express myself and I like when it appears useful for the others as well.